Maneki Neko: juicy information (TOP #6)

Have you ever wondered what those strange arm-waving cat statuettes are in Asian restaurants?

Their name is Maneki Neko, they are lucky cats, and together we are going to discover their story.

Apart from a really cute side, I had never found any other interest in this Japanese cat than that of simply bringing luck. Being curious, I decided to go further. I then discovered six interesting facts about our little lucky cat.

If you've ever visited a Japanese restaurant, or even an Asian supermarket, you've probably already noticed a little cat figurine sitting in front of the cash register. This is the lucky cat, or Maneki Neko, a cat-shaped charm very popular in Japanese and Chinese cultures.

The Maneki Neko is a talisman believed to attract luck and fortune to its owners. Thus, it is very common to find one of these lucky cats displayed in stores, restaurants and other businesses.

If you want to attract luck and customers to your business, here is an ideal Maneki Neko statue to achieve your goals.

Contents :

What does Maneki Neko mean?

The legends behind Maneki Neko

The importance of the raised paw of the Maneki Neko

The symbolism behind the colors of Maneki Neko

The meaning that the lucky cat carries within it

A feline who knew how to conquer the world

maneki neko statue showing left paw

1. What does Maneki Neko mean?

This lucky cat is known in Japanese as Maneki Neko, meaning "to wave to the cat."

The cat's paw is raised as if giving its owners a good luck sign. Some of its most common nicknames include "the fortune cat", "the money cat", "the wiggling cat" and "the welcome cat".

We are therefore talking here about a lucky charm, in the same way as a horseshoe, an origami or a rabbit's foot.

A very decorative object, our animal is found in the sanctuaries and temples of the Japanese archipelago. (We will see in one of the next points how its meaning is religious.)

Aside from that, the Maneki Neko can be found in all sorts of games, comics, and books. Truly, these figurines are everywhere in the Land of the Rising Sun.

In Pokémon, for example, Meowth is based on this lucky cat. Manga stores in Tokyo are full of references to our cat. And it is the favorite piggy bank of little Japanese people.

The Maneki Neko is therefore undoubtedly a good symbol for all those curious about Japan.

Three Japanese lucky charms: a Maneki Neko figurine, omamoris and a daruma doll

The magical power of Japan

by these ancestral Japanese lucky charms


2. The legends behind the Maneki Neko

No one can agree on the creation of the first Maneki Neko. However, most will agree that lucky cats first appeared in Japan during the Edo period (17th to mid-19th century).

There are some popular legends about the origins of Maneki Neko. The first tells of a rich merchant who, during a storm, took shelter under a tree not far from a temple.

It was then that he noticed a cat that seemed to be beckoning to him, and then followed him inside the temple. Soon after, lightning struck the tree he was standing under.

Because the cat had saved his life, the man was so grateful that he became a benefactor of the temple, which allowed it to experience unparalleled prosperity. When he died, a giant statue of the cat was made in his honor.

The second legend concerning our lucky cat is surprising to say the least.

A geisha had a cat that she adored. One day, he pulled off his kimono in front of the emperor, exposing his mistress. The owner of the brothel then thought that the cat was possessed. He cut off his head with a blow of his sword. (Yeah, it's gruesome! Don't worry, no cats were harmed during the writing of this article.)

It was then that the cat's flying head intercepted the attack of a snake, teeth bared, ready to poison the geisha. The snake died of suffocation, and the lady was saved. Everyone was so moved by what they understood to be the noble sacrifice of the cat, that a statue was built in his honor.

Other stories involve a stray cat, an old woman or half a dozen samurai. Regardless, it can be said that it is always about cats bringing extraordinary luck.

If you also believe in their power, discover our collection of lucky cats without further delay.

Maneki Neko paw raised in the air and placed on the beach in front of the Sea of ​​Japan

3. The importance of the raised paw of the Maneki Neko

Feng shui, zen or shinto: Asian traditions are very detailed regarding the use of lucky decoration!

There is actually a meaning behind the paw our cat chose. If the left paw is raised, this is supposed to attract customers. If the cat raises its right paw, it brings luck and financial success.

Both of these propositions are tempting to say the least, which is why we can sometimes find a lucky cat with both paws in the air. Concretely, two paws up can mean protection.

Japanese culture is full of these little folk traditions that give it its charm and magic!

set of lots of maneki neko in various colors

4. The symbolism behind the colors of Maneki Neko

Although most of the time the Maneki Neko we see are white with orange and black spots, there are many color variations, each with a special meaning.

  • Calico: Traditional color combination, considered the luckiest
  • White: Happiness, purity and positive things to come
  • Gold: Wealth and prosperity, like golden coins
  • Black: Keeps evil spirits away
  • Red: Success in love and relationships in general
  • Green: Assurance of good health

It remains clear that the dominant color will be white. However, each cat figurine will bring you luck. In any case, whatever color you choose, this Japanese lucky charm will drive away demons and evil spirits away from your home!

You can find, by clicking on the link, many of these Maneki Neko statue models.

Several rows of golden Maneki Neko in a lucky charm store

5. The meaning that the lucky cat carries within it

The Maneki Neko is finely dressed to say the least. Generally bib, collar and bell are part of his outfit. During the Edo period, it was actually common for wealthy people to dress their pets this way.

The bell was used by them to constantly keep track of their cats.

Lucky cat statues often hold something else in their paws. For example:

  • A ryo: This is a Japanese coin from the Edo period. A ryo was then considered a real fortune.
  • The magic mallet: If you see a small hammer, it represents wealth. When shaken, the mallet is simply supposed to bring it to the owner of the lucky cat. Sometimes also, the mallet is replaced by a bell.
  • A fish, most likely a carp: it symbolizes abundance and good fortune.
  • A precious stone or jewel: This also attracts money. Some people further believe that it serves as a crystal ball representing wisdom.
  • A bib: A cat effigy could wear a bib as a symbol of its innocence.

There are also lucky cats with gourds, prayer tablets, radishes and ingots. All of this also generally represents wealth and abundance. Regardless of the name, legend, raised paw, color or object in the paw, you can't go wrong with a Maneki Neko perched by your side.

Tell us: And you, do you have a lucky cat near your home or at your office?

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6. A feline who knew how to conquer the world

The Maneki Neko is therefore a symbol of luck allowing, depending on how you use it and the model you choose, to bring luck, happiness, prosperity and success. Japanese women find it crazy cute and tourists love it.

In addition to its many “magical” abilities (we don't like to use that word but that's really what it's all about), it's undeniable that this cat figurine has conquered the world with its cuteness and fun.

In addition to the usual statues, we can find it on key rings, pendants or amulets.

Made of porcelain, ceramic or simply plastic: here are some photos of the Maneki Neko found around the world.

Small yellow cat figurine waving at us.

Two Maneki Neko (one white and one pink) side by side.

Family of three Maneki Neko of different sizes.

Amusing little statuette of the Japanese cat lying under a parasol.

Tiny figurine of Maneki Neko not even reaching 1cm high.

Very modern statue of Maneki Neko in matte black color.

Very primitive wooden sculpture representing a beckoning cat carrying a tablet.

Failed cat statue, with rather crude features and contours.

Lucky charms featured in this article

Classic Maneki Neko Statue

Classic Maneki Neko Statue

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Smiling Maneki Neko Statue

Smiling Maneki Neko Statue

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author picture(Cyril Gendarme)

Discover the author: Cyril Gendarme

Cyril Gendarme is a writer whose website "The Lucky Door" ("La Porte Du Bonheur" in French, his native language) has become a reference in the field of esotericism. Born in Belgium, Cyril has been attracted to the mysteries of the world since he was a child. When his interest in occultism was awakened, a particular subject caught his attention: lucky charms.

After years of study and in-depth research on esoteric traditions from around the world, Cyril decided to share his knowledge with the public through the internet. In 2019, he launched "The Lucky Door," a website dedicated to exploring lucky charms, magical symbols, and esoteric arts.

The Lucky Door is much more than just a showcase for those curious about magic, divination, or tradition. It is the result of Cyril's passion for researching and understanding the mysteries of the universe. Every piece of information available on the site testifies to his dedication to sharing his knowledge of the most hidden symbols and their unique powers.

In addition to his online work, Cyril regularly organizes workshops and conferences in different countries. His presence on social media is also highly appreciated, where he offers personalized advice and happily answers questions from his community.